Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (David Zellner, 2014)

A jaded Japanese woman discovers a hidden copy of Fargo (1996) on VHS, believing it to be a treasure map indicating the location of a large case of money.

Just like Fargo itself, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is based on a true story. Well, it is what it is stated when entering into each film.

Staring beautiful Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi as Kumiko this Zellner bros (David and Nathan Zellner) film captures by its plot line but does it delivers as much as its promises?

First off, this is a beautiful contemporary film with high contrasted colors. It is visually stunning with Kumiko’s red coat that sparks just like the blood on the snow in the infamous scene of the wood chipper in Fargo. In fact, much of the Coen bros’ film aesthetics is recognizable as an influence or an inevitable copy to keep us in the right mood that links both films together.

Kumiko’s conquistador quest is interesting, heartfelt, and well balanced funny. However, a lack of writing elevates this from the good level of independent cinema of nowadays. The danger when a film links to a high esteemed film, and in this case a masterpiece like Fargo

I liked that they linked both films with the same opening of true events inspiration. As many knows, Fargo weas not based on a true story. Why? This is how the Joel and Ethan Coen are, they know how to manipulate the viewer to make him believe or care for insignificant things. Gifted storytellers do this, they can lead us anywhere they want with the most ridiculous characters. In the case of Kumiko, there’s another level but it never goes as far as a post-modernist study of the stupidity of the human race.

This is the real danger when making a film with an interesting storyline or a great starting idea. I’ve seen numbers of films that showcase a great starting idea but that have a less than average ending. Many things can elevate a good story to a great story, but an average story needs better writing and Kumiko suffers mainly because of its middle of the road writing.

Still, this is a beautiful film that was made with good values and a will to be quiet but efficient independent reflexion of a lost woman in the modern world.

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